September 08, 2022
By Matt Zvolanek
Match the hatch. In fly-fishing terms, it means to try to closely imitate your fly with which native bugs the fish are seeing at that time. To apply it in terms of duck hunting, it simply means to imitate the waterfowl species that are naturally out there in the marsh/river/lakes at that time you plan to hunt, and that’s where confidence decoys fit in.
So, what is a confidence decoy? Simply put, it’s any decoy(s) such a goose, swan, coot, or another species that ducks are used to seeing that give them added confidence in the safety of your decoy spread. Confidence decoys can be a variety of species and can be used alone or mixed and matched with other species. Some of the more common ones are as follows.
Be sure to watch confidence deocys in action in the video below!
Types of Confidence Decoys for Duck Hunting
Canada Goose Decoys
Perhaps the most widely-used confidence decoy is the Canada goose, and for good reason. Ducks absolutely love geese. Oftentimes, they will be mixed in together on roosts or other areas. The larger size and contrast of goose decoys lead to increased visibility. To be as realistic as possible, be sure to pick goose decoys with a variety of head positions. Hunters can choose between goose floaters, full bodies, silhouettes, and shells. The main drawback to using goose decoys is the amount of extra space they take up, depending on which type the hunter runs in their spread.
DON'T MISS our favorite goose decoys of 2022
Another waterfowl species used for confidence are swans. Big and bright white, swan decoys lead to increased visibility on the water. Less common than goose decoys, they can be the final touch to make your spread more tantalizing to passing ducks. The main drawback is the same with geese; the large size and amount of space they take up.
The foil of many a waterfowler, the humble coot can make for an excellent addition to any spread in areas where they’re present. Ducks oftentimes will associate large rafts of coots with safety and opt to land with them. Teal will key in on them in early season wetlands, hoping for an easier meal. Coots’ black bodies add for great contrast to any spread and they’re one of the easiest decoys to make on your own: A coat of black paint, a white beak, and some red detailing and you’ve got a coot. Perhaps the only drawback to coot decoys are the laughs of fellow fowlers as you embark on a hunt.
Other species that can be used as confidence decoys include cranes, herons, egrets, seagulls, grebes, and possibly many more. Ultimately, if you are noticing certain species commonly around ducks while scouting, odds are they will work as a confidence decoy.
Up for some debate as a true confidence decoy, but some duck decoys could be considered confidence decoys as well. Examples include using hen mallards during early teal season, using diver duck decoys for their increased visibility and contrast, or using decoys with various head positions to more realistically imitate actual ducks.
So be it using coot decoys on early September teal or goose decoys in icy water for late season mallards, adding confidence decoys to more closely imitate what you see while out scouting or hunting can help you bag more ducks this upcoming season.